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Home » My Kolkata » Food » Kolkata boy and restaurateur Rahul Arora picks Salt Lake’s best new cafes

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Kolkata boy and restaurateur Rahul Arora picks Salt Lake’s best new cafes

From a handful of eateries to a bustling foodie’s haven, the writer and chef journeys through the neighbourhood’s transformation

Rahul Arora | Published 12.09.23, 06:31 PM
Rahul’s top cafe picks in Salt Lake: (From left) Bubble N Tea Asian Cafe, Rahul at Fabbrica, and Craft Coffee Experience Centre

Rahul’s top cafe picks in Salt Lake: (From left) Bubble N Tea Asian Cafe, Rahul at Fabbrica, and Craft Coffee Experience Centre

Well, I happen to be born a south Kolkata boy. And an ’80s child born in Hazra-Bhawanipore is sure to have had a vibrant childhood. The distinctive call of the ice-cream wallah going ‘kwaa-leh-tee aa-issh-kirim’, the resonating brass bell of the cotton-candy seller, and the clanging of the dosa wallah’s spatula on the iron tawa — all these sights, sounds and companions contributed to a unique para life.

However, by the end of the ’80s, my parents decided to move to Salt Lake, which proved to be a stark contrast. As a child, I despised it — no kids to play with, no fun, and way too many mosquitoes. Salt Lake, almost 35 years ago, had very little to offer. The streets would turn desolate by 7pm. Mishra’s Restaurant Cum Bar, Dan Din’s, Sweet N Sour were the only few restaurants (they still exist), and were pretty average but we had to live with it. It was during the mid-1990s that things began to change, with the ‘Swimming Pool’ area (BF CF block) getting Scoop, some chaat stalls and a little bit of an evening lifestyle. We would look forward to evenings there.

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Following the opening of City Centre and the commercialisation of Sector V, Salt Lake started getting some attention. Today, Salt Lake has a life, a soul and some beautiful places to eat. Of the new places, let me introduce you to some of my favourites.

Bubble N Tea Asian Cafe

Bubble N Tea Asian Cafe in Salt Lake Sector 3

Bubble N Tea Asian Cafe in Salt Lake Sector 3

@bubblentea_/Instagram

I have a soft spot for BTAC. It’s only been a few months since it opened in Sector 3 and has already become popular, especially with the youngsters. Its subtle, suave interiors and a unique Asian and Korean menu set it apart from the regular cafes. It has an aesthetic ambience and is not loud. With the rise of KPop culture in Kolkata, today’s teenagers have started exploring Korean corn dogs, bibimbap, kimbap and ramen, and it’s interesting to see the evolving taste palate. They use top quality ingredients and it reflects in the flavours.

My picks: Wonton with Chilli Oil, Dan Dan Noodles, Thai Boba Tea. One of the best-sellers is the Japanese Cheesecake.

Fabbrica

Rahul Arora at Fabbrica in City Centre 1, Salt Lake

Rahul Arora at Fabbrica in City Centre 1, Salt Lake

Fabbrica has been our to-go mother-son lunch spot for as long as I can remember. Since my dad wasn’t a pizza person, my mom and I made countless trips there ourselves. Since they opened in Salt Lake, it has become a family favourite. There is no match to Fabbrica when it comes to pizza. I recommend visiting during the day when the ample natural light makes the food look even better! The place is also my favourite to click pictures since the decor is chic but not over-the-top (though I must confess the little balcony table at their Allenby Road outlet still has my heart!). The crust of their pizza is perfectly proved, light, airy and smoky. Good kneading and proper fermentation is very important for a good pizza, and they nail it .

My picks: Burrata Salad, Fab Fungo Pizza, Tiramisu

Tribe 

Tribe in Salt Lake Sector 1

Tribe in Salt Lake Sector 1

@tribekolkata

I’ve loved Tribe ever since they opened in Golpark. It was my go-to place for grabbing a wrap on-the-go for a working lunch. What I love about the Salt Lake Sector 1 outlet is the room dedicated to Satyajit Ray’s works, where the leading ladies of Ray adorn the pink room. Also, if you want to judge a beverage maker, always ask for a classic lemon iced tea... The iced tea here is refreshingly authentic, made with real tea and no premixes. An impressive collection of books and art adds to the charm.

My picks: Chicken Caesar Salad Wrap, Popcorn Chicken and Iced Tea

Blue Tokai

Blue Tokai in Sector 1

Blue Tokai in Sector 1

Courtesy Blue Tokai

Blue Tokai needs no introduction when it comes to good quality coffee beans, but why I chose the Sector 1 outlet is because of the general flow of service here. I think the staff, especially the girls, do a commendable job. Whenever I need some me-time, I come here, have a coffee, a cookie or a plain croissant and just calm down. I prefer mornings here, as evenings tend to get crowded. The food is by Suchali’s Artisan Bakehouse, so the quality is great.

My picks: Americano, Brownie Sea Salt Crinkle Cookie, Croissant

Craft Coffee Experience Centre

Craft Coffee in Salt Lake (FD Block)

Craft Coffee in Salt Lake (FD Block)

Karo Kumar

Craft Coffee has created a beautiful property in Salt Lake (FD Block). Taking up a full bunglow, it is done up with calming white hues with hints of colour to add some vibrance. It has a very bohemian vibe which will remind you of Puducherry or Auroville. The coffee beans are great, and I love the sandwiches, and desserts. On a hot summer day, the fruity cascara (coffee cherry tea) is just perfect. Service can be a tad slow during peak hours, but the staff is warm and friendly and it is a nice place to click some pretty pictures.

My picks: Baked Cheesecake, Peri Peri Wings, Cascara

Footnote: Chili’s Grill & Bar

Chili’s in City Centre Salt Lake

Chili’s in City Centre Salt Lake

Soumyajit Dey

I’m also very excited about the new Chili’s in City Centre Salt Lake. Although they are yet to get a liquor licence, Chili’s has been a favourite for years now and it is so nice to have an outlet in Salt Lake. I particularly love their Fajita, wings and calamari.

Over the years, Salt Lake has evolved from a quiet, distant suburb, to a posh bungalow township and, finally, into a thriving foodie paradise. It is amazing to see how beautifully the palate of this township has evolved. Let’s hope that while it continues to grow, over-commercialisation doesn’t overshadow the inherent beauty of Salt Lake. As of now, the balance is just right.

The author (@rahul.arora.1982) is a chef, restaurateur and menu consultant. Check him out on Bong Eat’s Rannaghore Ke? Episode 8 here.

Last updated on 12.09.23, 06:35 PM
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